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Sugar group claims corn syrup imports cost industry P10.5B means BUSINESS

MANILA, Philippines -- A sugarcane growers’ group warned the “massive” entry of high fructose corn syrup by beverage and food producers could kill the local sugar industry, which it claimed has lost at least P10.5 billion to the imports.

The Negros-based Confederation of Sugar Producers Inc. said records of the Bureau of Customs showed 234,863 metric tons of HFCS, equivalent to 352,294.5 metric tons of sugar, entered the country last year.

“This spells a loss of P10.5 billion in the industry and, since sugar farming is still the economic lifeblood of Negros, this will result to an economic disaster if not addressed,” CONFED national president, Francis de la Rama, said in a statement from the group. 

The loss estimate is based on the P1,500 average price of a 50-kilo (Lkg) bag of sugar, 20 of which make up a metric ton of the commodity.

“Our research shows that beverage companies made a shift (toward) utilizing higher volumes of artificial sweeteners (mostly HFCS) in the formulation of their beverage products at the expense of the domestically produced sugar,” De la Rama said. 

While beverage companies consume about 70 percent of “B” or domestic sugar, CONFED said of late, HFCS makes up about 80 percent of the sweetener mix used by these firms.

CONFED also noted that HFCS importation tripled in the past two years, cutting demand for domestic sugar and triggering a drop in mill gate prices.

The group said last week’s bidding showed A sugar averaging P1,249.17/Lkg  and B P1,548.75/Lkg, or a total of P1,524.78 versus P1,800 last year.

“What is alarming still is that the local buyers are saying that at these levels the industrial beverage companies are not yet buying our sugar,” De la Rama said as he urged the Sugar Regulatory Administration to manage the supply of sweeteners in the country.